The two pictures above depict two times we had four generations of direct father/son Taylor men together in one room. Three men in the first picture have fought with cancer. Today, I am proud to introduce you to my dad, Rick Taylor, as I welcome him as a guest writer for today. In this post he discusses cancer in the family, and what it is like to have watched 3 generations around him fight this disease. You can follow him on Twitter, and leave some love in the comments!
In ancient China the Emperor once built a new palace, and as was the custom, he commissioned a Buddhist priest to write a scroll to proclaim good fortune for his family.
The priest wrote “Father dies, son dies, grandson dies”.
Furious, the Emperor had soldiers bring the priest to him, intending to kill him for his insult. The priest told him:
“If your son died before you, you would grieve terribly. If your grandson died before you, you and your son would be inconsolable. But if you pass on, then your son, then your grandson, this is the natural order of life, and there is no greater blessing than to live in harmony with the law of nature.”
I am the Taylor Family historian. I know where my family came from, where they lived, and how they died. I know my great-great Grandfather Taylor was a Confederate Veteran who lost an eye and lived to be nearly 90. I know my great-grandfather Taylor started working in the textile mills at age 6 and died at 61 of tuberculosis.
I watched my grandfather Taylor suffer through cancer of the larynx and die at 86. He started smoking when he was 12, and worked in the mills all his life. The fact that he had cancer didn’t register much with me. “I never smoked, so I should be ok” I told myself.
Then my father died of prostate cancer. At age 74. And he never smoked.
This made me rethink my longevity. Still, Dad died at the statistical average age of death for Taylor men. So maybe I could still beat the average.
Then my phone rings on September 11, 2012. From the emergency room in Abingdon Virginia. Where my son, John, had just been diagnosed with advanced testicular cancer.
And none of my family knowledge prepared me for this.
What came next was four months of emergency trips, long days in hospital rooms, and much worry about the future. The Taylor Family rallied around us. We fought it as a family, and in February of 2013 John was declared the victor in the fight. And this Thanksgiving is much different from last.
But now I look at the family tree differently. I look down the lines and worry about my grandson. I know my son still has to be vigilant and guard his health. I think about my brother and sister, and their children, and hope they do not face the cancer menace that pursues us.
And in the back of my mind I wonder – is the seed growing in me?